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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CHRISTMAS



Well folks it`s that time of year again and i am making a move tomorrow to spend Christmas with the family.



A HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL

Sunday, December 19, 2010

DOWN AT THE BOAT and bits of SEATTLE

Waking up Friday morning and the same view from the front of the boat is a bit different to Thursday`s blog. They did forecast -5 and they sure they did get it on the button. After my usual 4/5 trips along the towpath to keep the water tank topped up with a 2 gallon bucket i was glad i`d covered the water point as the water flowed ok on Friday. I have well over half a tank of water but am working on putting in more than my daily usage so that in the event the tap does freeze i can survive a fair while.Also in the same frame of mind i have made another diesel run along the towpath and another 20 ltrs keeps the tank higher than the first top up. Just in case road deliveries to suppliers get held up by the weather.Well that view on Friday was the icing on the cake and the decision, huh! not much choice, is the boat will have to fend for itself while i go back to stay with the family/s over Christmas. The main worry is with no heat in the boat a chance of a burst pipe. Not had this problem before as the freezing weather has always been post Christmas, yes i can hear you. Last year the big freeze a week before Christmas was ok pipe wise as i was very local to the family and could go back and forth to the boat and keep some heat circulating.

The plan this time is to isolate the water tank and leave all the taps open so any water left in the pipes has some room for expansion. All the pipework on NB Valerie is the Hep2 plastic type which i am led to believe will stand the freeze better than copper. Any other suggestions will be well received. The central heating system has anti-freeze solution running through it`s veins so all is well there.
Was planning on leaving Thursday but the temptation is to go sooner, Thanks Joanne/Kev.




Pictured above part of the flight from Vegas to Seattle. 250+ passengers over 3 classes, just how does 200 tons fly threw the air at 500+mph. It`s a long way down but from 35,000ft you`ll only crash once but if you have those thoughts why board in the first place so best just watch the movie.

Map of the area around Seattle. It could be America`s answer to the BW map of the UK waterways.





The first Starbucks was this one here in Seattle opposite the Pike Place market opened in 1971. Starbucks invasion on the world began with their first out of America site in Tokyo now they are in around 40 countries world wide.



Now i wonder what health & safety here in the UK would say about this. The driver operates the holder from the cab and delivers or collects your bike at the Pavement/Sidewalk depending which side of the pond you talk from.


One of the top attractions is the Seattle Needle standing at 605` tall. Built for the World fair in 1962 the restaurant 500` up revolves, at least the outer part does, and so finely is it balanced all that is needed is a 1.5 hp motor. Fun facts about the Needle HERE.


Views from the viewing gallery 520` feet up.



The Experience Music Project combined with the Science Fiction Museum is housed in this stainless Steele clad building. Inside the entrance hall is dominated by a guitar monument stretching up 3 floors. None of the pictures i took can beat this interactive one here. Inside the building are 12 studios where you can try out many types of musical instrument, all the studios are soundproofed and if you watch the video below of me in action you can hear why.

So i`ll just leave you with this video of me having fun in one of the mini studios in the EMP.

scroll down, the vid just wont stay where i put it.
















































































Thursday, December 16, 2010

WINTER

Just as i was hoping the ice might just be melting after the milder weather of the last 2 days late this afternoon it turned very cold and stated to snow. The water that had been laying on top of
the ice has frozen to become a base for the snow to build up on. Looking at the local forecast below for the area i`m holidaying/stranded in it will freeze for sure tonight. So it looks highly likely in fact a sure bet that i like many of the C/Cruisers out there will not be reaching their preferred mooring for the Christmas break.
No good fretting about it as for sure there are others stuck out far away from services, at least i can get to shops, fuel and transport fairly near by.
Plenty of time to read and dream of the Summer months ahead and cook a nice hot meal like my sausage casserole last night.
Just put my head out the side hatch and it`s bloody cold so keep warm everyone and above all be safe in these wintry conditions.

MISSING LINK

The link to Jaqueline`s blog is here.
Sorry the link did not work in the last blog. Although i have corrected it now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FALLING IN LOVE

Once upon a time there was a man who due to circumstances decided a change of life was needed so decided to live on a narrow boat and blog about his travels. So as the blog became popular he decided on the last blog of Oct. 2009 to put a few lines in asking for overseas readers to contact him. Already up to then he`d had a few e mails from across the globe just one off`s and wondered how many more people might be reading but not commenting.

On opening his inbox on the 9th Nov 2009 his heart missed a beat upon seeing one that had all the markings of the Inland Revenue seeking money. It began -Dear Sir........ Now being a laid back Water Gypsy the first instinct was to read no more and throw it to the Lions in the delete box, no news is good news so the saying goes. But then again if he just read it first and then fed it to the Lions, well how would they know? and life could drift on. So bravely he stood on deck facing un-known dangers with a force 9 gale blowing and lightening bouncing off the gunnel's.......
sorry about that, thought i was writing a best seller. So he scrolled down and below, heavily edited - it went on and on, is what he read.

From: jalmdale@roadrunner.com
To: lesbiggs1948@msn.com
Subject: U.S. follower
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 2009 19:16:26 -0800

Dear Sir,


Per your request within your blog I am following your NB experiences as well as those of NB Living in Sanity (Sheila and Bruce), NB No Problems (Sue and Vic ), NB Poppy (Julie and Mark), and the NB Quidditch.............................................................................

I just discovered narrow boats and canals mid October while watching Burt Wolf’s Travels & Traditions on PBS. He was on the Canal Du Midi in France. It roused my...................................
..................................................................................................................................................................
.........as my one weakness!

To your good health,
Jaqueline Almdale
Cloudhouse
Pullman WA USA

Ok the storyteller has got us this far now i`ll take over.

That folks was the first of 300+ e mails and phone calls that have bounced across the pond in the last 14 months and despite what you read above i love those e mails to be of book length.
Politeness....no hang on the politeness has always been there, Formality, is the word, was still the order of the day in the comment of Nov 11th below with`Hello Sir` but formality was to end on the 18th with all communications being` Hello Les`. Nowadays it`s..........well different.


Dragonfly said...
Hello Sir,
It's nice to read you are back on the move again. The pics....
.........................................................................................................
.......them first!! :)
Safe Journey to you.
Jaqueline
USA



Casually mentioning in one of my e mails my wish to re-visit Las vegas i received an e mail on the 12th Jan 2010 inviting me to visit, 9 weeks! before getting an invite must be losing the charm eh lads, Jaqueline and stay a while at her home. Well l played it cool and said plans were not made yet and could well be into 2011 before the Vegas trip took off so thanks but no thanks. What was i thinking i hear the blokes shouting, listen i`m thinking this crazy woman wants me to make a 2 plane, 1200 miles trip from Vegas for a visit. I know it`s a big country but is this what they call in the area so pop in.

So as the months went by the bond between us grew to such an extent that after much talk of flight options i decided that my bucket list needed another tick and Vegas was planned for around October.

Now it so happens that my loved one works for Washington State University and in October she would be on University business in Seattle. The suggestion was made that i visit Seattle and she would collect me from my hotel and we would drive the 6hr journey back to her home in Pullman when she would take some leave (vacation). Only 55mins on the plane so why drive for 6 hrs, my mind is whirring, meet at my hotel. The flashbacks are becoming clearer it was the hotel part, oh my god she is a crazy, Hitchcock and the Bates hotel, no it`ll be ok just have to be up early and out of the shower before she arrives.

On a sunny Sunday morning Jaqueline drove into the hotel car park and i knew then my 3 hrs late into the night Internet session had paid off........she was definitely not one of the photos on the FBI most wanted list. As she walked across to me all my nervousness and thoughts of will she be the hostess from hell were melted by the lovely smile that beamed across to me and after the customary hug the conversation flowed like we had known each other for years. The six hour drive seemed just a couple of hours with many stops to through some beautiful country. Driving to Jaq is the preferred way to travel, why be above the beauty when you can drive through it.


I suppose it only fair i share that smile with you all.





Ok so you can put away the sick bags or the tear soaked hankies depending on how you took all this on board because for you the story is over. As for Jaq and myself i think that `Dear sir` letter was our starting grid and the car park meeting was when the chequered flag was lowered. As for the result i see the the podium with two people standing on the No. 1 spot.

Check out Jaqueline`s blog HERE. where you can read the full `dear sir` letter plus all the other posts.

February will see me back in her arms for a much longer visit and all being well Jaqueline will be on board NB Valerie for a visit later in the year during which time she is hoping to bump into some fellow bloggers.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

COMMENTS & MY BUCKET LIST

I get all the junk/spam comments but like most bloggers l have a filter system that won`t put them on the blog till approved by the blog owner. Now some are just adverts and of course pornography like this one (it`s ok i`ve cleaned it up) mentioned in a blog some time back but what about this one.

Hi there



This post was interesting, how long did it take you to write.

This came in 2 days ago and was comment on a blog i published in March! No links to anything, and these type are common, so what`s it all about. If it had come in when the post was published in March then i would have approved it and answered as i normally do. The rubbish with links i can understand but this type baffles me. Is it some....oh i don`t know but if you folks out there have any idea let me know. Another point is in the link I supplied above i previously had managed to copy and paste the comment from my E Mail notification but now it seems not to want to paste, again anybody any thoughts?

Anyone recognise this section of canal? The picture was taken back in my days of non blogging.

These two know where it is in fact all four of them know, but Kiernan & Keira two of my Grandchildren are the only ones with voices and they say it`s in the Belgium village of Adinkerke that we all visited a while back. Better known as Tobacco Alley it`s a big attraction not just for Brits buying tobacco but also the French. With prices of rolling tobacco here half the price of the ferry company`s and a third of UK prices it`s no surprise so many flock there. Best thing is it`s just 35 mins drive from Calais and they take £ sterling and give you change in the same. Lovely selection of chocolates as well, a lot hand made plus you still get your canal fix.




Another trip i made was here, no not France but Las Vegas. the last time i was in Las Vegas or Lost Wages as it`s affectionately known was 1980 when i spent a month touring the states from Los Angeles zig zagging across to New York and up into Canada. Now as most folks know since 1980 Vegas has expanded and the hotels first competed on size then they turned to themes. The upshot is there are Gondolas on a 1/4 mile long canal through the Venetian Hotel past replications of Bridge of Sighs and St. Marks Square. Trips up the Eiffel Tower, Lions in the MGM Grand, a walk through the streets of Rome via the Caesars Palace hotel and the list could go on and on.


Spent 5 days in Vegas and never put so much as a dime in the slots, all i wanted to do was wander through this make believe world created by visitors from around the world who have financed it all by gambling.


Free shows include the water show on the 10acre lake fronting the Bellagio, the volcano erupting outside the Mirage or the musical Pirate show at Treasure Island with the boys sailing in to invade the girl pirates ship.
The biggest free show was the un-limited access to all the hotels with their casinos ,restaurants and shopping streets themed to be Venice, Rome or Paris etc.

The Luxor Hotel pyramid shaped and covered in tinted glass has 2,500 rooms. You would be



wrong thinking the pic on the left is the main entrance because it`s only the way in from the monorail that connects just 3 of the hotels at one end of the Las Vegas strip.







ROME













PARIS















VENICE

The 6 pictures above are all indoor shots and as you walk along that sky appears to be moving.






NEW YORK
No i did not, who gets pleasure going up-side down.




So visit Las Vegas and save your self the bother of travelling around the world. As Vegas has not quite got everywhere covered yet my next journey is 1200 miles with a plane change in Los Angeles that will land me in Seattle.



Seattle was never on the original plan of whittling down my bucket list but you`ll have to wait a
bit longer to find out about the change of plans. Meanwhile buckle your seats and i`ll cross off
another item on that bucket list.

Bit more choke i think (Excuse my hands) right sorted and we pass over the Hoover Dam



and land in the Grand Canyon. The Yellow thing around my waist isn`t a bum bag but a life jacket. Five helicopters left Las Vegas and met here almost down beside the Colorado River for a Champagne lunch.
Ok so the return trip to Vegas and the helicopter are 2 off the list so now the next part of the journey to Seattle and see what happens there.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

ANOTHER STEP BACK

Poached egg, fried potatoas and bacon...........sorry i was miles & miles away for a moment. Jx



Lovely scene below from the front of the boat unless like me you just don`t like being tied to one
spot for to long. That towpath looks reasonable but take my word for it there are several sections that are just ice and walking and staying upright has become a new skill i have had to acquire.





Looks so pretty, calm peaceful doesn`t it but not far round that bend saturday last a man in his 30s was found dead in the canal. I had of course already heard on the towpath telegraph about the
poor bloke but what was nice as i walked out past the long deserted scene were the many bunches of flowers and candles that had been placed at the spot. He must be missed by many. It was however spoilt 45mins later as i returned the same route to find them all kicked into the canal. I say kicked because surely the scum bag that passed by for sure didn`t bend down to pick them up before scattering them on the ice.


The reason for the walk was to get some diesel and my 20 litre can


with my small set of wheels became my saviours. My rough estimate of the boat tank contents was about 35 litres perhaps a little more but as we are all aware in those lower levels lie sludge and water not ideal for the delicate workings of an injector pump. Now as i said before i have been using the generator to charge the batteries but that doesn`t give me hot water and i do miss my shower and being able to flick on the central heating first thing.
So with the contents of the already filled can and 2 trips along the towpath i know have approximately 90ish litres on board so all is well for a while. It was worth the walking just to be warm and clean because a sink full of water, heated on the top of the solid fuel stove, is just not enough for a good wash.



Back in mid november the boat decided it was not going to start one morning although the starter motor was full of life apart from the weird noises it was making. If i new then what the problem was i would never have used that kind of language. so only thing to do was remove the starter to make a decision of burial or some TLC. Now as i don`t believe in keeping a dog and barking myself i called on the men in white vans with RCR painted on the side.



The result was that one of the splined rivets (see right pic) holding the 2 parts of the drive plate together had broken away and become lodged in between the fly wheel and starter mechanism. So starter now works but the drive plate is in big trouble is the diagnosis. Cutting the story short parts ordered and fitted and you can see in the picture above left all that was holding it together was the circlip that when i removed it the two parts, well they parted. So i suppose a blessing that the starter failed when tied up or i could have been in a sticky situation along the way.





Another walk another day begs the question has the thaw begun? did i oversleep a few days during

which tempretures rose and i can now move the boat from the block of ice cream that has held it so tightly for what seems months. No it`s just the R. Avon passing through Warwickshire on it`s way to the sea.


Big old chimmney on that boat, bet it`s warm in there.




Tuesday, December 07, 2010

BIT OF HISTORY

Not the usual history i often blog but a look back at the months i`ve been on the `missing believed held captive at BW HQ` list of lost bloggers.

So we start at the present and work back but be warned it could turn into a Mills & Boon novel so sick bags at the ready if un-like me your not a romantic but that`s later so just keep the bags handy for now.
So in true blogger form we start off with some snowy pics and as usual i`m later than everyone else

much like catching a pic of the first spring lambs the prize for which if l remember correctly usually goes to fellow bloggers Sue/Vic on `No Problem` or Del/Al on Derwent 6. Lamb pictures




are available on other blogs.(added to stop the Law Suites). Anyway i claim the first pic of the year of NB Valerie iced in at.........the side of the canal. Phew! that was close, lose my 007 status if my cover is blown. Also can i be the first to wish everybody a happy Easter, what! - you know the eggs will be in the shops on Boxing day.



In the piece of Video below taken about the 2nd or 3rd day of the ice forming the crew of 3 spent an hour or so up to the start of the film just smashing the ice to get the boat to move at all before managing their great escape although where to and why we will never know. At least it kept one stir crazy boater (me) amused for a while.


WATCH VIDEO HERE




So what`s next, ah! my trip to the shop and what i bought........ok stop shouting those sort of things bore me as well. I did a few weeks back have a yearning to see the family and of course the G`children, you`ve all done the same i read the blogs, so a long w`end (5 days?) yes but as boaters a w`end is any length we choose. Now it so happened my good friend for the last 8/9yrs Amanda half my age and 10 times better looking- how hard is that...seen my pic- needed a man to do a bit of decorating. Give mand a hand on the land .Sorry I`ll get my coat. Just 1 days work and she gave me a lift the following day to her friend, my d in law Bev`s house and then i ventured off the following day to see the rest of the family Kev/Joanne & Steve/Ozlem in Luton. So a nice visit all round which will keep me going between the phone calls until Christmas.



Amanda and her son Owen





To be continued. Good to be blogging again. Spread the word please.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

KNOCK KNOCK anybody there?

Never been one to wish my life away but as far as 2010 is concerned it can`t be over quick enough although to be honest the last 2 months have given me.....well as far as your all concerned it`s given me the push to get back to blogging. What else has happened in those 2 months will be another blog.
Mid April was the last normal blog post shortly after a relationship breakdown within the family hit me real bad and l just handled it badly. All is well now and has been for quite sometime but the blogging feeling just wasn`t there until these last 2 months, yes i know l keep on about those months but patience.

Well as you all know other blogs are available and in the absence of mine you must have gathered that the Water road has frozen over and us water gypsy`s have been imprisoned like Knights in white satin. Never in my 5 yrs afloat have i known it to get this cold and the solid fuel stove has been working overtime to keep the cold at bay.


The windows have once again been given the double glazing treatment with the help of plastic film, See Jan 12th 2010 blog , and heat (hair dryer) and the result is no condensation and no heat loss through the glass together with an almost glass like view out.


The solid wood flooring on board NB Valerie is my next project as my feet get cold as soon as the temperatures drop below freezing. A metal hull sitting in ice is not the best of insulation's and my thoughts having rejected carpet ( to much muck on the towpath in winter) is to add some insulation under foot. Taking up the existing floor to accomplish this is not feasible owing to the built in units gracing it`s surface so my idea is to put down some insulation on the existing floor and then lay a new floor on top. I do love the ease that a wood floor can be mopped over and polished.


Getting iced in brings it`s problems the biggest being fuel both liquid and solid. At the moment i am in Warwickshire - same old Les never saying exactly where- and close to shops so food is no problem while i`ve 2 good legs. Fuel for the stove is adequate at the moment although i have planned ahead in the event that the Fuel boat stays iced in and will not be passing for a while.

Diesel is at at such a low point that i now charge the batteries using my generator as a 5litre can is easy to carry along the towpath to obtain petrol to keep it running. Water is fine as i filled up the day before Mr. Icicle came.

Internet signal is reasonable as is phone and satellite reception so all in all things could be worse and who knows the weather might ease up and everyone can start cruising again.


Ok that will do for a `getting back into it` first blog.






Friday, June 04, 2010

Peeed Off having been hacked

Had big problems with my PC.
My E Mail has been obliterated and I am just sorting everything out and I am trying to build up my contacts list and get back to blogging.
Anyone out there who has e mailed me anytime please do it again to help me.

LESBIGGS1948@HOTMAIL.CO.UK

Could have done without this on top of everything else but i won`t be beat.........i`m a boater.


Many thanks to those who have helped me so far.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ON A MISSION

You may have noticed a change in the way and frequency of the blog lately but as you are aware i`m experiencing big family problems to personal to broadcast to the world wide web.
Some of my boating friends are aware of the problems and to those of my friends i have not met recently don`t feel offended if you think you have been blanked it`s only that we haven`t cruised by each other of late.
My mission is to reach a safe haven where i can leave the boat to return south for a short time also to meet family for a short cruise before my return south by train.
So away from Newbold(nr Rugby) passing through Newbold Tunnel with its fancy light show.


Sure sign that summer is well on its way.

This sort of scene makes me wild, someone has gone to a lot of trouble to remove some rubbish from the canal so why leave it on the towpath because as you can see from the graffiti the local yobs have no regard for the area and are likely to toss it all back in.
Now approaching Hawkesbury Jct. or as i call it `electric jct`. The scale of pylons and electrikery based here at this sub station is much greater than can be seen in the picture.
Another sign that summer has arrived. I also spotted some Moorhen chicks. Sorry no pic.
Hawkesbury Jct. or Sutton Stop call it what you will but it`s still the junction of the Oxford and Coventry canals. I will be going under the bridge that can be seen past the lock and turning right along the Coventry Canal towards Atherstone. To the left some 5 miles down the Coventry Canal is Coventry City itself. In the past i have made the trip but was so disappointed with the amount of rubbish floating in the water i now prefer to travel into the city by bus.

Having made my right turn the old engine house still stands. It once contained a steam engine that pumped water from a well into the canal. It ceased work in 1913.

Monday, April 19, 2010

AWAY FROM BRAUNSTON

For a short time i`m back to cruising after leaving my friends Andy/Tina my first stop was back
at Braunston for a couple of days and am now heading for Stafford. Here i will leave the boat safely in a marina while i again travel south to help one of the boys move onto his new life. Sad but that`s life.
Along the Oxford the tower of the church in Braunston soon will be lost behind the landscape


as i head into the open countryside towards Rugby. I shall pull in along the way for a tea break.
Hillmorton locks are soon reached and the three sets of twin single chambers were the hive of
activity as 3 boatloads of Air Cadets took part in a competition of smartness and efficiency under the watchful eye of just not me but their commanders. As you see in the picture 2 cadets from each boat stood to attention by the lock mechanism plus one on the single gate. Points were awarded for the steerer getting the boat in without incident and the lock winding gear being wound in unison. As i entered one cadet stood to attention and closed the gate for me, he then joined the others in his team and together they marched arms swinging perfectly in formation to the next lock.
One of the pleasures of a summer sun are the reflections under the bridges that change with the passing of a boat or even just a duck. Under the bridge on the left some Pampas grass can be seen and i spent a pleasant hour or so watching the birds stripping the soft tops to line their nests.
So another peaceful mooring yet only 2 miles from the hustle and bustle of Rugby.